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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

Asian Security Group Strengthens Ties
 

The leaders of Russia, China and four Central Asian nations anointed their security group as a full-fledged international organization and moved to strengthen cooperation against terrorism at their regional summit Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also used the summit to try to assuage China's concerns about Moscow's push to establish closer ties with the United States and NATO.

Putin, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and leaders of former Soviet republics Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed the charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization a document giving the group formal international legal status.

The group's secretariat will be based in Beijing.

The six leaders also agreed to set up a joint regional anti-terrorism structure headquartered in Kyrgyzstan. Jiang said the new body would help ``resolutely protect the regional security and stability.''

Putin described the new anti-terrorist structure as a ``contribution to global anti-terrorist efforts.''

Addressing the Indian-Pakistani crisis, the SCO leaders urged the two nuclear-armed rivals to ``resume political dialogue in order to ease tension.''

The group's leaders also voiced their concern about the continuing cross-border flow of drugs from Afghanistan, and said they were ready to assist the Afghan efforts to rebuild the country and create jobs to help eliminate narcotics trafficking.

The original Shanghai group was set up 1966 with the primary goal of defusing tensions along China's 4,600-mile border with Russia and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The group originally was called the Shanghai Five, but last year it embraced Uzbekistan and renamed itself to reflect a more ambitious set of goals. However, it mostly has acted as a forum for discussing efforts to fight extremism, terrorism and separatism, and taken few practical steps.

Russia and China, which have dominated the group, once described it as an important tool to increase stability in Asia and foster the concept of a ``multipolar world'' intended to offset perceived U.S. global domination.

But such rhetoric came to a halt after Putin cast strong support behind the U.S.-led war on terror and welcomed the U.S. troop deployment in Central Asia.

The move challenged the Russian and Chinese domination of the resource-rich region and vexed Beijing, which is nervous about the U.S. military presence so close to its borders.

``The global balance of power is shifting,'' said Uzbek President Islam Karimov, whose nation is hosting U.S. troops and is increasingly looking toward the United States as a key ally.

Karimov praised Putin for his efforts to forge closer ties with the United States and NATO and warned that the SCO would be successful only if it takes into account the changing global situation a veiled suggestion to China and all others to calmly accept the U.S. presence in the region.

 

source: The Associated Press, Fri 7 Jun 2002
 


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